Hard Times Book I, Chapter 8: Questions and Answers

Charles Dickens

Book I, Chapter 8: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What do you think Dickens means by the opening words of Chapter 8, “Let us strike the key-note again, before pursuing the tune”?

2. How many church denominations compete for the allegiance of Coketown’s population?

3. Mr. Gradgrind is said to have “greatly tormented his mind” about what?

4. Who does Tom say hates him and all the family?

5. The “Jaundiced Jail” is Tom’s way of referring to what?

6. What does Louisa wish she had learned, so as to be able to “reconcile” Tom to conditions at home?

7. What will be Tom’s “revenge” when he goes off to work at Bounderby’s?

8. In what way does Tom propose to “smooth” and “manage” Bounderby?

9. What does Tom see in the fire?

10. Mrs. Gradgrind repeats which one of her favorite “cogent remarks” to her children?

Answers
1. By the “key-note,” Dickens may mean his educational theme, and by the “tune” how it works itself out in the story of Tom and Louisa Gradgrind. The “key-note” might also refer to his evocation of Coketown.

2. There are 18 churches in Coketown.

3. Mr. Gradgrind worries greatly about what books people take out of Coketown’s library.

4. Tom believes that Sissy Jupe hates him and all his family.

5. Tom calls Stone Lodge a “Jaundiced Jail.”

6. Louisa says she wished she knew how to play an instrument, or sing, or talk amusingly, as other girls have been taught to do.

7. Tom says he will enjoy himself, go out more, and “see something.”

8. Whenever Bounderby says anything he doesn’t like to hear, Tom will just mention how his sister would be hurt, and how she expects him (Tom) to be treated gently.

9. Tom sees nothing in the fire, “except that it is a fire…and looks as stupid and blank as everything else looks.”

10. Mrs. Gradgrind says she wishes she “had never had a family, and then you would know what it was to do without me!” She says the same thing in Chapter 4.